Research in Motion will launch a cloud-based capability for its popular BlackBerry Enterprise Server by the end of 2011, RIM officials said Thursday.

RIM unveiled a new architecture for BES in the cloud before analysts and reporters at a BlackBerry for Business event here, offering few details on how it will be ultimately deployed.

The launch of the cloud capability could depend on either partners, such as telecommunications carriers that would host the BES service, or it could be hosted by RIM itself, said Pete Devenyi, vice president of RIM's communications platform group. "We're not yet saying how it will be rolled out," he said.

A cloud-based service would offer the security inherent in BES to a far wider range of companies, small and large, that are not interested in provisioning physical BES servers, analysts at the conference said.

"Smaller companies might want to invest in a cloud-based BES, but even large companies can put a portion of their infrastructure in the cloud," Devenyi said.

RIM's architecture for a cloud-based BES creates an open BlackBerry Common Messaging Interface between various mail adapters and BES Services software as well as a BES database. The interface allows third parties to create variations of BES, Devenyi said.

BES is considered the iron horse of secure messaging globally and is widely used by financial firms and others seeking the encryption and other security protections it provides. BlackBerry smartphones typically receive email and other messages constantly from a BES server located within a company's data centre.

There are more than 250,000 active BES servers, RIM said.